National Reso-Phonic Guitars: Available to order at Project Music

We have been insanely busy since March and we have not had a chance to take a holiday, learn a different language or write a new blog. However, we have almost managed to catch up and are delighted to announce we are now an official resophonic specialist for National Reso-Phonic Guitars and to celebrate, we have written a guide and review of this fantastic company.

Who are National Reso-Phonic Guitars?

National Reso-Phonic Guitars was founded by Don Young and McGregor Gaines in 1989. They began manufacturing reproductions of resonator instruments based on designs created by John Dopyera and George Beauchamp back in 1927. Don Young and McGregor Gaines initially started working on their resonators in a garage in California and now all the instruments made by National are constructed and given a pro set up in their factory in California in San Luis Obispo. Nearly every part of the process is done in house by a highly technical and professional small team of crafters. The National Reso-Phonic Guitar company offer both authentic versions of the original 1920s and ’30s designs developed by Dopyera and, initially Beauchamp, from the National String Instrument Company 1927 to 1941, and fantastic modern adaptations too

What do they make and who are they for?

The overall review of National Reso-Phonic Guitars is that they make the finest resonator guitars available on the market. They are entirely dedicated to producing high quality, 100% all American resonator mandolins, resonator ukuleles and resonator guitars that cater for all players including blues, folk and jazz.

The original resonators were designed to produce loud sounds and were built to satisfy the need for a louder guitar for jazz bands and for recording. The resonators built now, by National Reso-Phonic Guitars Nationals, have a much wider dynamic range than either electric or conventional wooden acoustic guitars, with a profound tone that is unique among these instruments and while these guitars are often synonymous with slide blues and Hawaiian slide, these instruments can be played, and are meant to be played, in just about any style or genre of music.

What are the main differences and options in the models?

The quality of workmanship is equal on all instruments made by National Reso-Phonic Guitars. Most questions on the differences, come from an interest in the difference in the quality between a steel and a brass bodied guitar, or for newer players the number of frets and the difference in the necks. We have put together a simple guide below.

    • Brass or Steel? There is no difference in quality, the difference comes in the tone, due to the metal and the finishing used and is subtle. Most of the Tricone models are made from brass and the Polychrome Tricones models are made from steel. The steel models are finished with a powdercoat enamel and gives a bluesy tone. The brass-bodied models are nickel plated and have a slightly diverse tonal character appealing to players interested in different genres. In addition, the single cone models also come in steel or brass. In general with single cones, the steel-bodied Delphi has a bit more of the blues sound, as do the brass-bodied Style O & Style N models, but as the tone on the brass models is again, less throaty, they deliver more ability for different sounds and they give more sustain if you sue a slide on these models .The wood body single-cones mellow the punch of any single cone, which some of our customers prefer.


    • 12 fret or 14 fret models? Both 12 fret and 14 fret instruments in this range are fantastic designs. Some players find the 12 fret models unsuitable because of the size of the finger slide they use and some players find the way the 14 fret affects the position of the coverplate, an issue. If you are used to acoustic guitars in a certain body size such as the OM you may find the 14 fret easier. If you are used to parlour guitars then the 12 fret may be easier but you may find you miss the extra two frets. How new you are to playing a resonator maybe also be a factor in your decision making. If you choose to use a slide and are fairly new to playing then you may not be comfortable with a 14 fret and may find the 12 fret less intimidating.


    • Round or Square neck? If you are a guitarist and want to play the resonator as a standard guitar neck you will need a resonator with a rounded neck. Like regular acoustic guitars, these necks are very comfortable to play whilst standing or seated in the same way as a guitar. The tuning can be standard or open, to use a slide, as common in blues style music. Typically, although not limited to these genres by any means, the square necked resonators are more popular with country and bluegrass players and are played in a lap steel style. A square neck resonator has to be played in a seated position and is normally played with a slide and usually come in open tunings which lend themselves to this playing style. The extra wood in the square design, means they can withstand a higher string tension.


We would advise that being aware of how you are going to use the instrument will help the decision and it is, as always with options on most instruments, usually more of a personal preference. Contact us to find out more about any of these instruments and to get an estimated delivery times.

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